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What the papers say

Rafael Nadal and Lukas Rosol shake hands on Centre Court
by Clive White
Friday 27 June 2014

Two years ago the unheralded Lukas Rosol achieved what we thought was the impossible when he bundled Rafael Nadal out of The Championships in a spell-binding five-setter under a closed roof on Centre Court.

Yesterday, during a 40-minute spell in a match at the same second-round stage of the competition and on the same court, it was not so much a case of lightning possibly striking twice, as twice as hard as the Czech threatened to do it straight sets.

As Simon Briggs in The Daily Telegraph said, there were “real flickers of electricity on Centre Court” before something more approaching normal service was resumed. Superhuman is a word best reserved for Nadal, and it even applied on this day in the way he managed to turn what looked like certain defeat into victory. But Rosol showed glimpses of superhuman qualities, too, for a while.

In fact, Briggs wondered whether the blue medical tape over the nape of the Czech man’s neck “might be covering up a data port, like the one Keanu Reeves sports in The Matrix...but then, little by little, he stopped playing like a virtual-reality simulation and started showing signs of fallibility.”

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Grigor Dimitrov continues to amass fans, among them Nick Bollettieri, the American coach. Of course, he is a little too old now for the sobriquet Baby Federer to sit happily with him and in fact Bollettieri saw more of Pete Sampras than the Swiss great in him in his column in The Independent. He invited his readers to “take a look at his serve because the way in which he puts it together stands out. It is right out of the Pete Sampras school of serving. Have a look at the way in which Dimitrov coils himself ready to serve and look at the direction his stomach is facing.
“As he comes into his serve he rotates his body, spins his stomach and get his ass into it. It’s what Boris Becker used to do and Sampras. Pistol Pete used to open fire with his stomach almost facing the back of the court.”

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Heather Watson, the last British woman to depart the ladies’ singles, seconded the parting shot of a Belgian coach, Julien Hoferlin, who has just left the Lawn Tennis Association, that British players are overly-protected as they develop under the LTA umbrella – or “spoilt” as he put it.
Esther Addley, in The Guardian, quoted Watson: “I understand where he is coming from. I see it with some people more than others. We are a strong and rich federation, so I can see that people would say that. I see some [players] not working week in, week out, choosing when they want to work, [and] not just the players, the coaches have let them get away with it.”

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With the World Cup going on at the same as Wimbledon, parallels and comparisons are constantly being drawn. Tim Lewis, also of The Guardian, watching Heather Watson “outclassed and outlasted” by Angelique Kerber, of Germany, likened the latter not to Joachim Low’s team but something closer to home. “Her reputation is for edging past the players she’d be expected to beat and losing, sometimes heavily, to the ones above her in the rankings. If Kerber was a football team, she would be Arsenal.”

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Still on a football theme, Roberto Bautista Agut, who faces Andy Murray today on Centre Court, revealed that he could have turned professional for his favourite football team Villarreal when he was 14. He is aware that Murray is also a keen football fan, whether he is watching or playing. Kevin Mitchell, in The Guardian, quoted the Spaniard as saying: “I think I made the right choice when I opted to become a tennis player – although I think I would have more chance of beating Andy at football [rather than tennis]. Spain beating Scotland at football? He has a point.

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Tennis bags, a proliferation of them, caught the attention of Tom Perrotta in the Wall Street Journal. He wrote: “Shoes, shirts, a skirt or three, energy drinks protein powder, a half-dozen rackets, hats, snacks, socks sweatbands, grips, bandanas, bandages, even spare underwear: There’s so much gear in tennis these days that players haul an extra bag to court. At Wimbledon this week, the lawns are littered with bags. Giant bags, small bags, plain bags, colourful bags, bags that look sturdy enough to hold a bowling ball.”

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Achieving a double bagel, or treble bagel in grand slam matches is the dream of every player, but not, apparently, John McEnroe, according to Stuart Fraser in the Daily Mail. “BBC pundit Pat Cash has revealed that John McEnroe – with whom he once played doubles – was so superstitious about not beating opponents 6-0, 6-0 [or even 6-0, 6-0, 6-0] that he would concede a game to avoid bad luck.” So McEnroe would have baulked at the opportunity of beating Jimmy Connors 6-0, 6-0, 6-0? You cannot be serious.

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20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...

20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."

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